As an active member of Pratham D.C.’s Board of Directors, Sheela Murthy is asking fellow child-literacy advocates to save the date for Pratham’s annual fundraising gala, to be held in the D.C. area on the evening of Saturday, October 4, 2014. Ms. Murthy, founder and president of the Murthy Law Firm has made a substantial philanthropic commitment to support the work of Pratham, an innovative and highly successful educational nonprofit that helps millions of underprivileged students in India’s public schools. Having sponsored the 2013 Pratham D.C. gala at the highest level, Murthy is delighted to be the principal underwriter of the 2014 gala.
Pratham’s work recognizes that, although the Indian educational system has made tremendous progress in recent years, much remains to be done. A variety of initiatives have steadily increased the number of Indian children who attend school – currently, about 96.5 percent – but illiteracy nonetheless remains rampant: among India’s 210 million school-aged children, nearly half are unable to read. Even those who stay in school often lag behind in critical skills: 46 percent of India’s fifth graders cannot read a second-grade-level text; 64 percent can’t do basic division.
The educational visionary and social entrepreneur who founded Pratham, Dr. Madhav Chavan, often remarks that getting children into school is only the first step to solving these larger problems; what actually happens in the classroom makes or breaks even the best-intentioned literacy efforts, he says. That’s where Pratham comes in. In cities and villages all across India, Pratham has trained an army of volunteers to teach basic literacy and math skills to children, and to collect data for a yearly statistical assessment of educational achievement in India, Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Report (ASER). ASER provides an objective and transparent analysis of educational progress, and the lack thereof, and has become a valuable tool both for government policymakers and the public stakeholders who would hold them accountable.
Murthy says, “What I love about Pratham is that it doesn’t go out and invest in bricks and mortar, it invests directly in people, by giving them the education they need to function and thrive in a global economy. It’s a terrible waste in any society when so much of the country’s brainpower remains untapped, just because educational opportunities for poor people are lacking. Pratham is working to set this right, and we are proud to help. More than that: as someone who has enjoyed the blessings of a sound education, I feel a responsibility to share my good fortune, and Pratham’s gala will bring together many other people who feel the same way. Their generosity is helping to transform the lives of millions of children, who’d otherwise face a life of poverty, hunger, and illiteracy. If it were not for the sacrifices of our parents and families, we could be in the place of those children. As they say, ‘But for the grace of God, there go I.’ That’s why I’m so committed to Pratham, and why I’m calling on my friends and colleagues to join us for this year’s Pratham gala and support their work: because education is the only thing that truly can break the cycle of poverty!”
For further information on Pratham, their mission, work, and programs, visit www.prathamusa.org.
Copyright © 2014, SHEELA MURTHY. All Rights Reserved